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History of Thrikkakara

The folktale of the Onam festival describes an unshakable history with Thrikkakara temple. It is believed that the place was originally called Thrikalkkara and was later changed to Thrikkakara. The name is derived from the legend that Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar set foot here to visit Mahabali, the region's former king, and consigned him to the underworld. On the day of Lord Vishnu's birthday, which falls on the Thiruvonam day in the month of Chingam, Mahabali was given permission to visit his subject. This tale gave rise to the Onam festival.

Thrikkakara temple is situated in Kochi, halfway between Edappally and Pookattu Padi. Within an enormous 10 acres of land there lies two temples. One temple is devoted to Vamanamoorthy and the other is devoted to Lord Shiva. Vamana, who is the main deity, is located to the east. Mahabali's statue is also housed at his temple. Onam is not just a festival but a devotion to the people of Thrikkakara. No other festival is celebrated with such pride. Another folklore associated with this temple is that, on learning the fabled tale of Mahabali, Kapila Maharshi visited the temple and offered penance to Lord Vishnu. The sage requested that Lord Vishnu be the deity of the place, and the Lord granted him his wish.

Apart from the folktales, the location is significant historically. It is stated that Cheraman Perumal, the emperor of Kulasekharam used to conduct the annual meeting of feudal kings at Thrikkakara temple. The meetings occurred during the festival season which starts from the day of Thiruvonam in the month of Karkidakam to Thiruvonam day in the month of Chingam. This 30-day long festival is concluded with a 10-day celebration of Onam that starts from the Atham day to Thiruvonam day, in the month of Chingam. A total of 56 local kings, 64 village chieftains and several members of nobility were invited to this festivities. When it became difficult for the kings to travel to Thrikkakara, the emperor declared that Onam should be celebrated in every residence by displaying the deity of Thrikkakara. Onam festivities are believed to have started by Cheraman Perumal-Bhaskara Ravi Varma and afterwards expanded over the entire state.

In the 12th century, the celebration declined rapidly due to the disputes between the kings. The temple was refurbished by Sreemoolam Thirunal in 1921. There are claims that Samoothiris conducted the Athachamayam celebration up until AD 1756. Despite these historical statements, people strongly believe that the presence of Mahabali can be felt here.

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